The Freedom Fighter

DSCN9485.jpgHe was a freedom fighter
to me, he was a rebel
to others, a soldier
to my parents, he was trouble

I was barely sixteen,
he, a few years older
we met at a party
fun was what I was after, and so was he

My parents watched with consternation
as things progressed too far
they were wise, cautioned softly, go slow
of course, at sixteen, it was advice I would ignore

At night I’d slip out the back door
to the intimacy of an empty park
somehow I’d find my freedom fighter
with cigarette tip glowing in the dark

He’d kiss me with a passion
I remember to this day
he promised me the world
If we left my hometown and ran away

In the company of friends
we would talk politics, knee deep in the car
I knew little about what he fought for
Yearning only the kind of freedom, I fought for

I once asked him if he’d choose his country or me
He looked at me intently saying
(as only a freedom fighter would)
If your country was wiped off the map
What would you do?

He had fought for his country
at an age when I didn’t know what that meant
But I loved his passion for fight
at a time when I was fighting for independence

Surrendering, my parents gave in
it was the lesser evil of the two
so they let me pack up and leave
all that I knew and loved, behind

He wept when I left him
the train pulled away, I opened his gift
I held it in my hand and smiled
as only a 16 year old would

It was a pendant, a bullet on a chain
Something I would never wear
a premonition of things to come
and yet, I didn’t care

Years later, I heard he was living in the USA
Married with children, he lives a staid life
This morning I know with conviction,
I did the right thing then.

Yes, my parents were right,
he never knew me at all
he may have been a freedom fighter once
but a staid life was not the freedom I fought for

a dawn bird

 

‘Tis the season, for love

I’ve spend the last two days reflecting on the meaning of love, perhaps, because of the time of year.  My reflections will give me something to write about in the coming weeks.  For now …

At one time I worked with elderly people where one of them was in cognitive decline.  I would often see them soon after a diagnosis was confirmed.  A difficult time.  Anticipating the road ahead for them and for the surviving partner, I would explore the resilience of the relationship.  I found the themes were invariably the same:  humour, and being there for the other.  Their thinking so alike, they were two peas in a pod.

I learned from the themes in these relationships, yes humour and presence, as simple as it sounds, works.  So this post is for them.

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The tremor

She averts her gaze from the future

to his arms on the table

they are strong and still as a bridge

the junction,

where his smile carries her over

a dawn bird

 

Pain, my muse

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I wake, tracing the ridges on once smooth skin

The cobbled path of scars I take to the eastern sky, is slow

Upright, I stretch and bend, still flexible,

some even say strong and resilient

But me?  I’m not sure anymore.

Boots on, I trudge under gum trees, green from rain, not tears

My footfall is now lighter, alone was a heavy load,

so I swapped with solitude many years ago,

a fair exchange

to hear the uncaged bird sing, the song of freedom with me.

Or so I thought.

Another day, another dollar …

Nightfall, I return to where I started from

Reaching in that empty space

Where you once used to be

And, I wonder

Would I be happier, if you were still with me?

The question remains unanswered.

 

a dawn bird

 

An aunt, by any other name …

I’ve been waiting to share my memory of this aunt.  The time never seemed right.  But tonight seems an opportune time, as she was a teacher by profession and today being Teacher’s Day.

She was my mother’s oldest sister who came after two sons in a sibship of ten.  She was beautiful in youth, chiselled features, a twinkle in her eye, long dark hair draped over one shoulder.  She remained that way as she aged.

My aunt had a profound sense of responsibility for her siblings and cared for them like they were her children.  They, in turn, respected her authority.  She was an indulged daughter who was known by her nickname, Baby, by her parents, and later siblings that followed.  As the nieces and nephews came along, she asked us to call her ‘Baby Darling’.  Her reasoning was simple.  She never married and did not have anyone to call her darling.  We accepted this.

Her name tripped off our tongue with easy, “Baby Darling this …”, “Baby Darling that …”.  The memory of this makes the child in me smile.  She had a closet in her bedroom that she kept locked.  It was a treasure trove.  It was always overstocked with perfumes and chocolates, and we crowded around her for the treats she shared generously.  Despite all the beautiful bottles of perfume, I recall she had a strong preference for Tiger Balm for pain.  Imagined or real.

Unlike my mother, who was always immaculately groomed, my aunt spent her day in PJs and slippers.  Her reasoning, was simple.  She was home.  It was her castle where she was queen.  She could do what she liked.  If my mother objected and pleaded with her to dress for visitors, she would say, if they were offended, they could come back when she was dressed … which was never … and then follow this statement with a peal of laughter!  We loved her eccentricity.

She was fiercely protective of her siblings and the extended family.  She was the protector of all secrets.  As teenagers we confided in her with absolute trust.  Our secrets were safe in the vault of her heart.  She giggled like a young girl at our stories of teen love, then she would share little snippets of her love life.

There was a sadness in her life.  It made her eyes sparkle.  Oh! the sweet pain of forbidden, unattainable love, far from being a burden, made her glow from the inside. Tennyson’s words, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, far from loss, was a triumph that glided her path.

As she walked with us step by step from childhood to teen years and beyond, little did she know, the children at her knee had learnt the best lesson about life.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Spring, at last!

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Today is the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.  A time synonymous with memories of love and laughter.

When I was married, on this day, I could count on my husband giving me a bunch of flowers with a funny poem he had written.  This was our tradition, every year.  I’m not sure what I looked forward to more, the flowers or the corny poem.

The father of my children may be absent from my life but the memory of many happier times is inescapable, on the first day of spring.

I am also reminded each year at spring, even the infinitesimally small can push through gravel and clay, to bloom again.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

Memories

At the end, all we have is memories.  We don’t re-create them.  We make new ones.  And, sometimes, from the old.  Like left-over food, the creation can be memorable.  I’m settled in my chair, about to enjoy a feast.

thumb_IMG_1403_1024.jpgThe snowdrops in my garden first appear in August.  The anniversary of my father’s passing.  Far from saddening me, the flower, like memories of him, delights the heart.

Today is the birth anniversary of my father.  He and my mother shared a birthday in the month of June.  Their birthdays made our home into a house of celebration.  It was an open house where people came uninvited, dropping in for a meal and drink.  My parents, the ever gracious hosts, would treat each person with unconditional warmth.

My parents were business people.  They managed their world of finances and friendships, with uncompromising integrity.  I feel blessed to have been raised in their world.

IMG_2035.jpgMy father was my David Attenborough.  He showed me the wonders of the world in words and books.  Through his eyes I see softness in ranges and know Nature’s hand can shape and smooth the most difficult terrain.

thumb_IMG_1406_1024Jostled in the air, I have learnt to focus on the sun ray bursting through a storm.

thumb_IMG_2343_1024.jpgI know no fear travelling in desolate outback.  I’ve come to learn, there is beauty in the barren.  There is peace in void.

thumb_IMG_2730_1024.jpgMy steps are measured and mindful because I know there’s more to experience in the journey between A to Z.

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Did my father teach me to think differently at his knee?  I’m not sure but the training certainly came early, much like our beloved pooch who at 12 months will get a toy and pose, Instagram ready!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird